Podcast Transcript: Hiring Blind Part 2

About This Podcast

Hiring Blind was produced by the Minnesota Radio Talking Book Network, part of State Services for the Blind. And it is recorded for people who are blind or have reading disabilities.

You can find complete programming of the Radio Talking Book at www.mnssb.org/rtb. And the password is R T B.

The following podcast is part two. 

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Introduction

Hiring Blind: The Misconceptions Facing America's Visually Impaired Workforce. Part Two.

The Realities of 2013

The disabled did not get their rights during the Civil Rights movement and had to wait until the ‘90s for the Americans with Disabilities Act to pass. Even now, many people assume the blind are unemployable. As a former recruiter, I realize there are different requirements and considerations that need to be addressed when hiring a visually impaired individual, but without changing our perspective on the capabilities of the blind, we can never end the discrimination that still takes place. 

Some companies such as Google, Apple, and Yahoo! routinely hire visually impaired employees. The U.S. government — especially the CIA, the Department of Rehabilitation, and the Social Security Agency — also hires many visually impaired people. 

Jobs capitalizing on the unique skills the blind develop are also being created. Givaudan, a company in the fragrance and flavors business, has developed a special internship program designed to give the blind work experience. Participants evaluate fragrances, detecting subtle differences that aid the creative team. 

It will take some time to abolish blind stereotypes. However, both the blind and sighted people can contribute to the shift. 

How Managers Can Improve Inclusivity 

Prejudices toward the blind workforce are not beyond repair. In addition to a “lead by example” role that managers can take, they can also become more inclusive by reaching out to groups that cater to the blind to recruit for potential new hires. 

Encourage your human resources department to diversify its pipeline of candidates by recruiting from employment programs at organizations such as LightHouse in San Francisco and The Lions Center for the Blind. Hiring a blind person for an internship not only gives him job experience but also will encourage others to be more open to considering a person who is blind for a position in the future. 

If a company is serious about inclusivity, then it is also very important that its website and job application portal be ADA compliant. Companies can also demonstrate a commitment to diversity by portraying blind people in their recruitment advertising. 

How the Blind Can Increase Their Chances of Hire 

The reality is that we live in a sighted world, and stereotypes pervade the workplace. For people without sight, bring your adaptive equipment along to interviews to demonstrate how you would complete required tasks to give the hiring manager the insight he needs to make a decision. 

Network in the blind community and get to know people in your line of work. If you know of a person who is blind and doing the job similar to the one you are applying for, get advice from him and obtain a reference if you can. Telling a hiring manager about another blind person in a similar role can help you land the job. Finally, do not hesitate to report a company if you believe you were discriminated against. 

How Sighted People Can Help 

If you work for a company that does not feature people with disabilities on its employment page, let your employer know he is not being inclusive. You can also ask your employer, school, and friends what they are doing to acknowledge disability awareness month in October. 

Education helps young people crush outdated beliefs at an early age. In California, the FAIR Education Act, which passed in 2011, requires public schools to include disability education. If you are a parent outside of California, demand your school district to add disability studies to its curriculum. 

Finally, perform a quick Google search any time a disabilities stereotype crosses your mind. Educating yourself on the truth about disabilities is the best way to eliminate outdated stereotypes. 

It will take time to change the collective consciousness of society and root out wrongful discrimination against people with disabilities. However, people can help by educating themselves about issues facing blind people today, discouraging outdated stereotypes, and working to encourage inclusivity in their workplaces.

Conclusion

This article was written by Belo Cipriani. He is a freelance writer, speaker and author of "Blind. A Memoir." Belo was the keynote speaker for the 2011 Americans with Disabilities Act Celebration in San Francisco, and was a guest lecturer at both Yale University and the University of San Francisco. Amber Clovers, his first work of fiction, will be published in 2013. 

He welcomes anyone to reach out to him at belocipriani.com or on Twitter at beloism. And Google-plus related communities. 

Your reader has been Stuart Holland.

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